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lessons learned from the man cave renovation

1) Framing is pretty easy and you can totally do most of it yourself

If you’ve worked with wood in any capacity before, then you should be able to do most of the framing yourself. If you’re working on a section that’s actually structural, you may want to have a 2nd opinion, but for in our case we were working inside a structure that already exists and just building within it.

It definitely helps if you have more than one pair of hands though – so recruit some help!

2) If you’re going to finish an attic space like this one, you’ll need to vent the roof.

Venting, like these pink foam sheets in the picture below, provides airflow between your insulation and the sheathing and prevents heat and moisture damage to your roof. This will ensure the longevity of both the roof and the insulation beneath.

3) Hiring out the drywall was worth it, but don’t expect it to be perfect just because a “professional” did it.

Drywall is quite heavy and very challenging to hang – especially on ceilings. You’d probably need at least 3 decently strong friends to do it yourself, and even then, you might regret it. We decided to hire someone for this piece, and although it cost us about $5K to do so, we’re very glad that we did. But we did learn that even when a professional does it – it’s not going to be perfect. There were some wavy seams where the pieces of drywall joined and some gaps that we had to fill around the windows, but all in all it was still worth it. (For context, the materials were probably about $1K, so we paid $4K in labor).

4) Don’t put the paint away. You’ll have to touch up something – we promise.

I can’t even tell you how many times we closed up the paint cans & washed all the brushes only to find a spot we missed, or a spot that got nicked or chipped the next day. Do yourself the favor and keep you paint handy. You can also wrap up your paint brushes in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge if you know you’re going to use it again the next day, rather than washing it out each time!

5) Trimming out windows and doors makes a huge impact, and it’s a super easy 1 day project.

The window trim & window sills were one of our favorite parts of the projects because it was so easy and made such a big impact! We looked up standard measurements but mostly just used the existing windows in the house as a base, and matched the same style. We did go a little deeper with the window sill, which I love, and now I want deep window sills everywhere in the house!

What would we have done differently?

Maybe the flooring. We used a wood-look laminate flooring that “floats” on top of the subfloor. This essentially means that it’s not glued or nailed down – it just clicks together and then the baseboards help hold it in place. There are some spots where it’s just not completely flat because its shifted around as we’ve walked around on it, moved furniture on top of it, etc. If we were to do it again we would spend a little more time making sure that all the pieces were tightly clicked together so that it wouldn’t have shifted as much.

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